Appalachian Coal Mines And Railroads, By Thomas W. Dixon, Jr.
Written by Thomas W. Dixon, Jr., a noted author of railroad operations in the Appalachians, Appalachian Coal Mines And Railroads
is another of these titles that describes how such services were
performed during the late steam and early diesel eras (roughly between
the 1930s and 1950s). In particular there are three railroads featured
in the book; the Norfolk &
Western, Chesapeake & Ohio, and to a lesser extent the Baltimore
& Ohio, Louisville & Nashville, and Virginian. The book goes beyond looking at just rail operations, however, and also highlights
several types of tipples used to dump coal as well as the once common
"beehive" coke ovens found constructed into the hillsides. Aside from
just an historical perspective, modelers could find this book useful in
scratchbuilding tipples and related structures.
|Baltimore & Ohio GP9 #6675 leads a pair of GP30s and another GP9 as the quartet of Geeps hustles a mixed freight through Riverdale, Maryland on December 17, 1968.|
With plenty of classic photos included any fan of Appalachian coal
operations is sure to enjoy Mr. Dixon's book on the subject. In any
event, Appalachian Coal Mines And Railroads opens with a foreword where the author describes what can be found in the book
and three primary railroads featured (in his words); the N&W,
C&O, and Virginian. He concludes the segment by thanking the
organizations/individuals involved in helping with the book; Ron
Flanary, Charles Castner, the C&O Historical Society, Virginia Tech,
B&O Railroad Museum, and the East Regional Coal Archives located in
Bluefield, West Virginia. Next up is a long introduction which begins
by describing how the demand for coal first came about and how it was
moved prior to the coming of the railroads; usually by manual labor, horses/mules, or early gravity systems.
From this point the author describes the railroads that
reached into western Virginia, West Virginia, and eastern Kentucky to
tap the lucrative coal seams located in the Appalachian Mountains. For
the C&O, N&W, and Virginian they would send their tonnage either
westward to power plants or eastward to the docks of Newport News/Norfolk, Virginia for export and shipment while the B&O sent its coal to several different locations;
the Midwest, Great Lake ports, and the docks at Baltimore. The rest of
the introduction gives readers an idea of how a mine tipple functions,
coal hoppers and gondolas are loaded, shipping the product to market (in this case the docks in Virginia and Maryland), typical equipment used to haul the coal (the aforementioned hoppers and gondolas), and the intangible aurora of coal industry as a whole.
|Norfolk & Western power including GP9 #803, RS11 #328, and another unit layover between assignments at the yard in Crewe, Virginia on January 4, 1969.|
In the opening chapter of Appalachian Coal Mines And Railroads
(altogether there are only three chapters for the entire book), Mr.
Dixon looks at operations at the mines. In the very early days of the
industry manual labor was quite common although as machines became more
readily available they allowed the operation to move at a much faster
pace. Since the book is primarily setup in a photo/caption presentation, you will see everything from early mining equipment
to how coal was sorted and prepared for shipment. Remember, of course,
that this was during the mid-20th century when mines employed much more
manual labor than they do today and there wasn't quite as much
mechanization in place. From a railfan's perspective perhaps most
interesting here is to see how hoppers in the era were loaded and the
many grades (sizes) of coal available.
The chapter also provides information on some of the types of
tipples commonly used in the region. Modelers will likely find this
section of the book very interesting as the author has included about
six different diagrams on these structures (perfect for scratchbuilding
your own) along with a track plan of one of the tipples. It should be
noted that all of these plans are based from an actual tipple once found
in regular use at the Kaymoor Coal Mine near Fayetteville, West
Virginia operating from 1900 to 1962. Another diagram
set features the Majestic Colliery Company tipple near Majestic,
Kentucky, served by the N&W. The final pages of chapter one feature
coke ovens and company mining towns.
Into chapter two, Appalachian Coal Mines And Railroads
looks at the actual transportation of coal by rail during the period.
Most often featured here is the N&W's massive and legendary Y Class
2-8-8-2s although you will also see B&O and C&O steam as well as
the Virginian's famous electrics. Other areas of this chapter looks at
classification yards, preparing the loads for shipment, and a more
detailed look at the common hoppers of the era. Around the time of
World War II many lines used anywhere from 50 to 70-ton hoppers although
the Virginian was famed for its 100-tonners, allowing the line to move
more coal per train.
|The conductor of a Chesapeake & Ohio merchandise freight has just grabbed his orders from the agent at Michigan City, Indiana on December 26, 1963.|
In the final chapter of the book,
which is also the shortest, Mr. Dixon's covers where you could often
see the coal transported typically during that era. As I mentioned
above most of the coal hauled by the N&W, Virginian, and C&O
shipped off for export in southern Virginia while some went to other
areas usually as fuel for power plants and residential homes.
Interestingly, residential use remained big business for coal until
after World War II when it feel out of favor for other, cleaner types of
fuel such as natural gas and electricity. Whether you enjoy
Appalachian rail operations or are just looking to construct your own
model tipple for a layout you should certainly like Appalachian Coal Mines And Railroads. If you're interested in perhaps purchasing this book please visit the link below which will take you to ordering information through Amazon.com, the trusted online shopping network.